The Great VDI Disruption: Amazon WorkSpaces Started It!

Author: Amitabh Sinha

Publish on: Aug 31, 2017 7:00:00 AM

What is Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)?

Lots of organizations have yet to take the plunge into the world of virtual desktops and apps, so if you're new to VDI, here's a recap. If you've already taken the plunge you can probably relate to the next paragraph, and you might even be searching for alternatives. Here's the story: 95% of enterprise desktops are Windows-based. Most business users use a Windows desktop to access their applications and data. For an increasing number of use cases - security, mobility, and agility - these Windows desktops are being virtualized and run centrally. End users access them using any device - thin clients, Macs, iPads, and smartphones. Analysts forecast that in many industries up to 25% of the desktops in the organization will be virtualized.  That's 150 million desktops, yet to date only about 35 million desktops have been virtualized. So what's the story with that?

VDI 1.0 is Complex and Expensive

The VDI market is currently dominated by Citrix and VMware. They both own roughly 50% of the market. Both solutions started off as on-premises solutions, requiring 9-12 months to POC, pilot, test and deploy. This complicated process requires expensive consultants for implementation and also for ongoing management, driving up OpEx over time. Not to mention the fact that at the outset, you accepted all of the risk for that implementation, but that's another story.

Ripe for Disruption

Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen coined the term "disruptive technology" and later "disruptive innovation".  According to his concept, large companies are focused on sustaining technology; they're all about incremental changes in products to meet the needs of current customers, and their value networks and organization structures make it difficult to invest in disruptive technology. Even great companies that identify disruptive technologies at the right time are usually reluctant to take risks for a variety of reasons, and even if they are it's very challenging to support the core business while moving fast to develop new technology and stay in front of challengers. So goes the story of the incumbent, which brings us to the story of the challengers. In the VDI market, one of them is Amazon, and specifically Amazon Workspaces (AWS).

The VDI market is experiencing classic disruption

Amazon WorkSpaces: An All-cloud Solution for VDI

Amazon launched a cloud VDI solution called Amazon WorkSpaces a few years ago. Essentially anybody can go to Amazon and set up Windows Server-based desktops in a few minutes. They can pay for it hourly or monthly using a credit card. Nice.

It is sort of like buying a PC at Best Buy - you get the basics. It has Windows on it and some basic productivity applications. But it's not an enterprise desktop. In order to use it for business use cases, IT has to do a lot of work to install applications, connect it to their Active Directory, apply their security policies, and get it ready for business-critical uses. 

While AWS is not enterprise-ready, it certainly has its place. In fact, even with so many solution gaps, Amazon has 1/2 million or more cloud desktops running in AWS. 

Amazon WorkSpaces Disrupts $30B in Datacenter Spend

There are three big areas of spend related to VDI:

- Citrix & VMware solutions generate about $2.5B in revenue annually

- The infrastructure vendors make 5x that in servers, storage, and networking: $12.5B

- Resellers and consultants make another $12B-$15B in helping companies implement VDI

We are witnessing classic disruption here. AWS, a lower functionality product at a lower price is disrupting the traditional VDI 1.0 market (Citrix and VMware). Sounds familiar, right? That's because you've seen this movie many times recently in the SaaS market as customers found their way to disruptive innovators such as Salesforce, Workday, and ServiceNow. We've thrown our hat in the ring too. Workspot is in good company with AWS: different approaches, but no less disruptive.

disruption-2.pngDisruptive innovators in the VDI / app publishing market

Why Did Amazon Launch WorkSpaces?

Of course, I don't know the real reason why. It might have been customers asking for a simpler VDI solution. Or they understood early on how important the VDI workload is (did you have a chance to read my last blog?).

Three years, later, here's what we do know. VDI is the most important enterprise workload. First, VDI has been a beachhead workload into the enterprise. Second, VDI is the #1 workload driving 20-40% of server and storage revenue. Finally, desktops drag the rest of the datacenter into the same cloud, so each VDI $ can potentially pull in $7-$10 "other" datacenter dollars. 

Workspot has Built an Enterprise-ready Cloud Desktop Solution

So what about Workspot? We're a disruptive innovator too. Having been deeply involved with the creation of first generation VDI and app publishing solutions, we knew there was a better way, so we built it. We offer a single solution that allows IT to deploy virtual applications and desktops either on-premises or in the cloud, in hours or days. IT is able to use their own corporate Windows template, connect it to their Active Directory (inheriting all the GPOs) and inherit all their network security. It's instantly and infinitely scalable, and multi-tenant, as you'd expect in this day and age. It's enterprise-ready and it's guaranteed. We've reinvented not only the technology, but the enterprise buying process as well, so customers don't have to assume all the risk of the implementation - we do. We reinvented the technology, and we reinvented the implementation process so it makes far more sense for customers and delivers fast time-to-value. Learn more about Cloud Desktops, Cloud Apps, Cloud Workstations and VDI 2.0 at


Workspot next-generation VDI solutions run on-premises, on Microsoft Azure, or both - simultaneously - and it's all managed through a single pane of glass.  Watch our 5 minute intro video!

VDI industry expert Brad Peterson discusses insanely simple Workspot VDI solutions.

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